We are delighted to share with you our interview « Questions and Answers » with the Business Woman, CEO and Founder of Amber Lounge.
Carla MARTIN: Please introduce yourself for those who do not know you yet. Kindly tell us about your background and your business? How you decided to create your business?
Sonia IRVINE: I’m Sonia Irvine, originally from Northern Ireland, and I am the Founder and CEO of Amber Lounge – the ultimate VIP F1 after parties. I started in Formula 1 as my brother’s (Eddie Irvine) physio, then as Ferrari’s team physio. I was constantly socialising with other F1 drivers, team principals and team sponsors. We all worked so hard during a Grand Prix weekend we wanted to celebrate and let our hair down at the end of it, but there never seemed to be one communal place where everyone could enjoy themselves. The idea of setting-up a classy, fun place to party and celebrate the races all together came to me. It was important to me that the party was a media-free zone so everyone could really relax. I decided to give the concept a try in Monaco 2003, and it was a huge success. So, Amber Lounge was born and we’ve been entertaining an incredible range of guests for over 15 years. From the very start the demand was there from the F1 fraternity and celebrities, so our parties continued, becoming world-famous. Amber Lounge has travelled the globe with Formula 1 and become a haven for drivers, celebrities and royalty to experience an unforgettable night. Our unique, exclusive VIP atmosphere, incredible entertainment and being the original F1 party, hosting around 1000 guests per night, is what has made our parties legendary.
CM: What does a typical working day look like for you?
SI: I try to balance my personal life and my work life. In the morning I take my youngest daughter to school then I head to the office. My aim is to firstly get on top of my emails as much as I can because the daily workload is huge. My team needs me as I am working very close with all departments throughout the day on multiple projects across all three events. Then I head to pick up my daughter and do her homework with her. At home it’s all about family time for me.
CM: Tell us what is your success mindset?
SI: Never doubt your abilities and keep going. In order to be successful, you need to have a target and picture yourself achieving that beforehand. It then allows you to push harder in order to achieve your goals. You also need to surround yourself with creative and ambitious people.
CM: What was your biggest challenge on the personal side also business side?
SI: Perhaps the most challenging aspect of being a business woman is to be able to combine the life of being a mother and running a successful company. I think that’s what makes things harder being a woman is that often you tend to feel more responsible on the family side of things. You’re trying to run your business at an extremely high level and then trying to be the best mum that you can be. I believe I’m a very stimulating mum for my kids and a very good role model.
CM: I would like to know what is the best advice in business you have been given? May I ask who gave it to you?
SI: My dad always used to tell me that if you want something, never give up.
CM: For a young entrepreneur, what advice would you give?
SI: Believe in yourself! It’s a lot of hard work at times juggling family and work. So, work hard, it’s only you who can make things happen. The world is as exciting as you make it. We are only here once, so let’s make that once as amazing as it can be for ourselves and for everyone we encounter.
CM: With everything you have achieved, what you would say your greatest achievement is?
SI: Definitely my two beautiful daughters. I love spending time with them as much as I can. Family is most important to me.
CM: What was the most challenging moment in your life? And how did you manage to overcome it?
SI: Being able to come up with fresh, new and exciting ideas every year as our business demands innovation and creativity due to its dynamic culture. As the F1 industry grows, and despite the competition, we are still regarded as the ultimate F1 after party. The F1 fraternity and guests love what we do and encourage us to continue.
CM: From your entire professional experience, what was your most exciting project up to now?
SI: On the professional side, it has to be the Amber Lounge Charity Fashion Show. I am proud and honored to help amazing causes raising money for charity. I always try to help people in need and will continue to do so for as much as I can.
CM: What is your business current focus?
SI: Currently my focus is on Amber Lounge Singapore on September 20-21 and Abu Dhabi November 30 to December 1st, as those are our next destinations.
CM: What charity do you support?
SI: For the last three years we have supported Sir Jackie Stewart’s charity called ‘Race Against Dementia’. We have raised more than USD 5 million dollars over the last 14 years since the start of the first charity fashion show. Other charities we have supported throughout the years include Elton John AIDS Foundation, the Special Olympics.
CM: Who inspires you today?
SI: My family – my mum, father, brother and my children. They mean the world to me and they give me the inspiration, determination and desire to keep going and be the person I am.
CM: Do you have a secret talent?
SI: Overcoming every obstacle that comes my way!
CM: You found your passion, in your opinion how does everyone find their own passion?
SI: Look into yourself, follow your dreams and do not let others influence your decisions in life.
CM: If you had the power to change just one thing in the world what would it be?
SI: To cure dementia.
CM: Much obliged Sonia for your time and kindness to answer my questions.